Do drop-down menus suck like a remora?

There’s no way around it, drop down menus are hard, especially when supporting cross-browser compatibility. I’m not the only one who thinks this, “Mr. Cool” from the Usability “A-List” writes:

“Now, me, I hate drop-down menus. I hate them as a user. Too many choices. It’s like those big laminated menus you get at a New York diner. Spaghetti, diet plate, French Toast, broiled filet of sole, pizza, ice cream sundae, Atkins menu, veggie burger…. The eyes blur. You slam the menu shut and order coffee.

As a designer, wherever possible, I avoid drop-down menus. For they almost always create an inferior user experience versus drilling down through clearly labeled, intelligently organized categories.” – Jeffrey Zeldman, 29 Jun 04

While I don’t agree 100% with Zeldman (don’t think I don’t I hear some of you gasping in horror), he’s got a point. I’ve seen more than one not-so-youngster get hung-up either kissing the screen to determine the choices or mousing furiously in a vain attempt navigate the timing of sublinks.

I’ve also seen some pretty hefty chucks of Javascript that require a busload of bandwidth and can be murder on those of us who use any variety of web publishing tools to generate our navigational links. For example, I’ve still got on my to-do list an upgrade the automagically generated Milonic Menu I use on so my Safari users don’t feel left out.

So why bother? I dunno, let’s talk about it … in the form of a comment below. In the meantime, let me turn you onto a slightly easier-to-implement CSS-based drop-down menu that is not as compatible to as to be all-things to all-OLDER-browsers but is far easier to maintain:

Based on the original IE-only suckerfish drowpdown detailed at A List Apart, this new puppy, available at HTMLDog, is more accessible and only 12 lines of Javascript fat. This son-of-a-female dog also works in Opera and Safari without a hack in sight and supports multiple-levels.

Of course, this means you’re going to have to figure out a way of supporting sub-page navigation for the three ‘youngsters’ in your church visiting your sermons page with Netscape 4.7 … but that’s another sermon for another day.